Edited by Azizi Powell
Latest revision: May 30, 2019
This pancocojams post presents information about and examples of the terms "melanin" and "melanated" when those terms are used in reference to Black people.
The content of this post is presented for socio-cultural purposes.
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Thanks to all those who are quoted in this post.
DEFINITION OF MELANIN
"any of a class of insoluble pigments, found in all forms of animal life, that account for the dark color of skin, hair, fur, scales, feathers, etc.
ORIGIN OF MELANIN
First recorded in 1835–45; melan- + -in2
This website doesn’t include the term “melanated”, which suggests that it is a relatively new form of the word "melanin". "Melanated" is an adjective.
The earliest online use of "melanated" that I've found to date is 2011: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f966-oGe2ns "MELANATED people please wake up?????(no captions pt.1)" published by KingteamEmpire on Dec 29, 2011.*
*WARNING: That YouTube sound file (with drawings & photos) contains some profanity, the "n word", and other verbal & visual content that I believe is inappropriate for children.
PANCOCOJAMS EDITOR'S NOTE
I first became aware of the use of the adjectival terms "melanated" and "melanin" [people; queen, consciousness ect.] around 2018 via its use by (presumably) African American commenters in certain YouTube discussion threads of mostly African American non-religious music videos. However, it wasn't until yesterday (May 28, 2019) that I decided to document some of the examples of that term that I had come across and try to suss out when and how those terms became referents for Black people. The impetus for this admittedly unscientific online research about these terms was seeing a number of casual tops for girls and women on sale with drawings of Black females accompanied by the term "melanin" or the term "melanated queen" (and other similar examples).
The Wikipedia article about the word "melanin" [given as Article Excerpt #1 below] cites a Spring 1992 scholarly article with the term "Magic Melanin". Ortiz De Montellano, Bernard (Spring 1992), "Magic Melanin: Spreading Scientific Illiteracy Among Minorities", Skeptical InquirerSkeptical Inquirer Volume 16, No. 2 https://skepticalinquirer.org/1992/01/magic_melanin_spreading_scientific_illiteracy_among_minorities_part_ii/?%2Fsi%2Fshow%2Fmagic_melanin_spreading_scientific_illiteracy_among_minorities. That article may include the term "melanated".
"Magic Melanin" is also the title of a January 2018 Hip Hop record by American rapper Remy Ma, featuring guest vocals from singer Chris Brown. "Melanin Magic" (alternatively titled Magic Melanin "Pretty Brown") was nominated for BET HER Award and BET Best Female Hip-Hop Artist Award.https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Melanin_Magic
The first use of "melanin" and "melanated" that I found in the YouTube discussion threads that I somewhat randomly read (mostly due to their titles) was "4 years ago"-a YouTube date that I interpret as 2015. But it appears from the dates of comments that I read on those discussion threads that it wasn't until 2016/2017 that the terms "melanin" and "melanated" really became more widely used among African Americans commenting on certain YouTube discussion threads. If you know of an earlier date for a YouTube comment that includes the terms "melanin" or "melanated", please share it in this pancocojams post's comment thread below.
After my online review of some definitions of "melanin" and "melanated", after reading some articles about those terms, and reading several discussion threads of YouTube videos with one of those terms in their title, I've reached the following conclusions:
1. In the context of this subject, "melanin" is a noun which is used as either a referent for Black people (or Black and Brown* people) or is indirectly used as an adjective for Black people (and Brown) or for so-called intrinsic characteristics of Black (and Brown) people. Examples: [used as a noun] "My melanin is poppin"; [used as an adjective] "Melanin magic"; [used as an adjective] "melanin queens" (meaning "Black women")
*By "Brown people" I mean people with dark skin who don't consider themselves to be Black.
2. "Melanated" is an adjective form of "melanin" that was relatively recently coined probably by an African American/African Americans and probably in the early 1990s or around 2011.
3. Neither "melanin" nor "melanated" appear to be used that often (yet) outside of the United States as descriptors of Black people.*
*Read the comment given as #3f in the Selected Comment section below for one example of "melanin"'s use as a racial adjective in Jamaica.
4. "Melanin" and "Melanated" are currently "in" (i.e. "hot", "popular") adjectives that describe Black people. Sometimes these adjectives also are used to describe Brown people.
5. Many African Americans consider the terms "melanin" and "melanated" to be the latest "hip" adjectives for Black people (and perhaps also some Brown people) and believe that those terms reflect and promote "Black pride" and Black love" without any connotations of racial superiority or inferiority (between melanated and non-melanated people and/or between people who have a greater or lesser degree of melanin, i.e. dark skinned Black people and Black people who aren't dark skinned.)
6. However, for some African Americans, the terms "melanin" and "melanated" have connotations of racial superiority or inferiority (between melanated and non-melanated people and/or between people who have a greater or lesser degree of melanin, i.e. dark skinned Black people and Black people who aren't dark skinned).
4. Because of #6, I'm concerned about the use of "melanin" and "melanated" and caution people to be more aware of harmful, racist, and colorist (colorism) connotations that those terms can carry.
URBAN DICTIONARY DEFINITIONS OF MELANATED
Full of melanin;
Look at that melanated queen standing so beautiful in color."
by Blamant November 26, 2016
"Individuals full of Melanin.
I only date melanated women/men."
by Aurum Melanino January 01, 2017
Another website that I read (but I can't recall which) included the word "naturally" in these definition of "melanated".
EXCERPTS OF THREE ONLINE ARTICLES THAT INCLUDE THE TERM "MELANATED"
"Melanin theory is a claim in Afrocentrism that a higher level of melanin, the primary determinant of skin color in humans, is the cause of an intellectual and physical superiority of dark-skinned people and provides them with supernatural powers. It is considered a racist and pseudoscientific theory.
According to Bernard Ortiz De Montellano of Wayne State University, "The alleged properties of melanin, mostly unsupported, irrelevant, or distortions of the scientific literature, are (...) used to justify Afrocentric assertions. One of the most common is that humans evolved as blacks in Africa, and that whites are mutants (albinos, or melanin recessives)". The melanin hypothesis was supported by Leonard Jeffries, who according to Time magazine, believes that "melanin, the dark skin pigment, gives blacks intellectual and physical superiority over whites"."...
From https://theundefeated.com/features/colorism-i-am-melanated-and-unapologetic/ Colorism: I am MELANATED and unapologetic
The word black perpetuates the negative
By Daoud Baptiste, September 15, 2016
…”the word “black” is rarely ever used to describe anything beautiful …
You get blacklisted because you’ve been blackballed by someone with a black heart. You’re stuck under this black cloud while slipping on black ice and smoke fills your black lungs as you drown in black water alongside the lost souls of those who died on any given black Sunday … or you can just get blackmailed into submission.
Does it make a difference if you’re called black, African-American, melanated or any other term?
So when we say things like black people, black pride, black family, black history, black lives, black love … What are we really speaking into existence?
What we need to do is take a look at our amazing brown skin through new eyes. We need to fall in love with it again. Realize that no matter how dark our pigmentation is … it is not black. Look at your high yella, honey golden, caramel-coated, mahogany dream, dark chocolate-creamed complexions. Look at your beautiful brown skin, and treasure it as passionately as “they” seek to destroy your passion for it and your knowledge of it.
Never forget that your skin is brown because you are filled with one of our planet’s most valued resources, melanin. Tell yourselves this …
“I have brown skin, brown hair, and brown eyes because I am blessed with the gift of melanin. If it lives and has any kind of color in the spectrum, it contains melanin. Melanin gives me better eyesight, a more naturally muscular physique, and a more youthful elasticity to my skin. I am MELANATED and unapologetic.”
[WARNING: This article and some of its comments include a few instances of profanity.]
From http://www.lifeculturepeople.com/culture-2/2016/9/1/black-magic-the-truth-behind-melanated-peoples-relationship-to-the-sun Black Magic: The Truth behind Melanated People's Relationship to the Sun [no author given; the only date given is "September 2" but probably 2017 because of comments]
"Some say the blacker the berry, the sweeter the juice. I say the darker the flesh then the deeper the roots" - Tupac Shakur: Keep Ya Head Up
Black people have been given all sorts of monikers throughout the many millenniums of our existence. For example, "Ethiops", meaning "burnt faces", Krishna, meaning black (not just the name of a God), dark-skinned, Moors or Moorish, meaning black, Indian/Indigo meaning black. We've even been referred to as "children of the sun". Throughout history, black people, no matter where we have been located, have always venerated, adored and relished in the sun. None more so prevelant than our ancestors of ancient Egypt. According to those Egyptian Africans, black people are indeed sons and daughters of the sun. The most recent term coined for us is "melanated". Pertaining to a distinct chemical called "melanin" that gives us our pigmentation. So the question goes without saying, what is melanin?
We can not continue the discussion of what melanin is without briefly talking about the pineal gland. The Pineal gland is an organ that is found at the center of the brain. This gland has been referred to as the Inner eye, 3rd eye, or 1st eye and is approximately the size of a single kernel of corn on average and is controlled by the Sun. The Pineal gland is responsible for producing and secreting two melanin derivative hormones: Serotonin & Melatonin. Serotonin is secreted during the daylight hours. Melatonin is secreted in night time hours. These hormones work inversely.
In some circles it is referred to as "the God particle". In humans, Melanin is a chemical that is produced in a specialized group of cells known as melanocytes. It has several life sustaining benefits. It counteracts stress, minimizes jet lag, regulates biological rhythms, boosts memory, plays a major role in the synthesis of DMT which intensifies REM or dream sleep, organizes our system biologically, mentally and spiritually, slows aging, strengthens the immune system, puts us in a pleasant mood, and resets out biological clock, which helps us adapt to new environments and time zones. Every living organism on this planet has melanin. But not all humans share the same type of melanin.
Melanin in it’s purest form is what we refer to as "jet black". It is called "eu-melanin". The prefix "eu" meaning "good". Eumelanin is found in ancient Egyptians (Khamitic people), Ethiopians, Nigerians, so called African Americans, and Australian aborigines. It is the deepest black because of it’s ability to absorb and store both light energy and sound energy. The reason melanin in it’s purest form shows up black is because the chemical structure will not allow any type of energy to escape. The more energy that is absorbed the darker the melanin, and therefore the darker the pigmentation. Therefore, the darker the skin tone, the more light energy -snip
you have. So Tupac was right...”
Here are two comments from that article's discussion thread (numbered for referent purposes only)
1. shay williams, 2017
"beautifully done article along w/face test at the end. I have two bi-racial nephews and I want them to love themselves and their melanated skin. This society and specially the older generations strongly discourage them to get sun exposure. showing them that "too dark" is a bad thing. I call that, shame of the self. I want them to know their truth and their true history and how beautiful they are. Team up w/KingDrop & Subtle Infinity for getting the word out. Thank U"
2. Mark, 2018
"Really amazing experiment, super cool. I think the only part that wasn't awesome was saying that the dark and/or young skin was the only healthy skin. The real pale, freckled skin is beautiful and healthy as well. I don't know the detailed biology of it beyond how melanin works. (My mom explained it to me as a child and I've always thought it was fascinating). It's a defense your body has developed in response to the environment. Dark skinned folks always have great skin and evolved in areas where there is more intense UV where as white folks and all the colors between have skin color adapted from their ancestral environments. Theyre all beautiful !! And healthy :) other than that, great video.
From https://www.pinterest.es/dest95/melanin-quotes/ and elsewhere include references to "Black girl magic". Here's a quote from the June 2018 article http://fromcaterpillarstobutterflies.com/inspiration/melanin-quotes-feel-good-skin/:
"America has a long history of treating minorities as inferior. Sadly, those feelings of inferiority still echo in the hearts of many young black men and women. Yet, black is beautiful. My melanin is poppin’. Even if you know this to be true, it’s great to be reminded every now and then.
Here are melanin quotes that will remind you who you are and ideally make you feel proud of and good about the melanin skin you’re in!
“Our melanin will always make us marvelous… Just imagine what that sea of sisterhood would look like. Magic!” – Alexandra Elle".
SELECTED COMMENTS THAT INCLUDE THE RACIAL USE OF THE WORD "MELANIN" AND/OR THE WORD "MELANATED" FROM VARIOUS YOUTUBE DISCUSSIONS THREADS
These examples are given in no particular order and are numbered for referencing purposes only. (Some comments that don't include the terms "melanin" or "melanated" are also included for contextual purposes.)
1. From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JyaxcvHSyZY "Chubby Checker - Pony Time" GNRSlashLover, Published on Sep 18, 2010 [clip from a mid 1960s television show]
Steve Mazzulli, 2017
It would be nice to see some more melanin in these videos.
From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=12kMTnObZcM India.Arie - Brown Skin; India Arie, Published on Jun 16, 2009 (Music video by India.Arie performing Brown Skin. (C) 2000 Motown Records, a Division of UMG Recordings, Inc.)
a. cjvann83, 2015
"211 dislikes from the melanin deficient lol"
b. Bono Bo, 2018
"cjvann83 you are not wrong 😰😭😭😅"
c. Mandy, 2018
"not true what so ever I am white and I am prob her biggest fan ever"
d. Chantiii, 2016
"M E L A N I N 👋🏽👋🏾👋🏿✨"
e. menimEisevoLyrics, 2015
"I'm so glad I'm black"
f. Danny Joaquim, 2016
"People who are happy with themselves don´t have to constantly try to convince people that they love their own skin color. So it´s probably safe to assume that you hate your brown skin and you´re really struggling with it."
g. jaylarenee1997, 2016
"Danny Joaquim or we do it because our society has made us ashame of our color for so long that we are happy that we can now look at ourselves and call our selves beautiful and uplift our brother and sisters."
h. Kym Cooper, 2016
"Thats a typical ignorant statement of a white person who doe'snt bother to educate themselves about black history and how racism works across the African Diaspora. To fill you in we were slaves her where constantly reminded that our blackness made us inferior to you witness and that we had no rights. This happened globally. How can you not know about this??? Your comments are so ridiculous and ignorant. She is singing that despite all the racism and oppression and colorise that made it acceptable for a person of lighter skin complexion to have more rights that she loves her dark skin anyway. Wake up and do some f&&king* research before making dumb comments like the previous one. Sick to death of ignorant white people like you who deny racism exists when you are the ones who invented it in the first place."
*This word is fully spelled out in this comment
i. Ken Marks, 2017
"menimEisevoLyrics its a privilege and an honor to be melinated ☺ i love it"
j. Ambo Walupime, 2016
"This song is so empowering. I love my Caramel skin, I hope y'all love your Cocoa, Mocha, Caramel skin! #MelaninIsAGIFT"
k. T A, 2018
"Ambo Walupime you forgot the pecan tan,and butter scotch, lol. I Love my brown skin."
l. kittendivine1, 2019
"white chocolate honorable as well? :)"
m. Shandreka Copeland, 2019
"We Ar3 full of Melanin....Black is a color im Not Black im brown skinned #Melanated #Wake up My People We Do Have A Nationality Like Everyone Else.. U Don't Hear Europeans refering to themselves as a color... And u shouldn't either!!
3. From https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_Ihg1_3-0os
Remy Ma - Melanin Magic (Pretty Brown) (Audio) ft. Chris Brown [Hip Hop] ; Remy Ma, Published on Jan 18, 2018
WARNING: This sound file and its discussion thread contains profanity and/or other content that may be inappropriate for children.
a. Morgan Hillery, 2018
"I got that MELANIN MAGIC brown skin popping” 🤪👸🏾
This is a line from that Hip Hop track.
b. Princess kaoir, 2018
"I’m definitely feeling this. I’m glad someone is proud of being brown/dark skin. #FlexinMyComplexion #MelaninMagic"
c. Chance Beck, 2018
"OK REMY!🔥🔥 first song of 2018 glorifying beautiful black skin"
d. Jamaal Davis, 2018
"Peace to the melanated queens"
e. KingMaru, 2018
"I like this cause brown skins don’t get enough credit. It’s always lightskins or dark skins 😕"
f. melanated woman, 2019
"Hillary Honde ...luk up Jamaican artist Romain Virgo...it's call 'Melanin'
He out did himself.
He has more, but that one is his latest one."
TWO EXAMPLES OF THE TERM "MELANIN" IN ONLINE ADS FOR CLOTHING ATTIRE
(Given in no particular order and numbered for referencing purposes only)
1. From https://www.amazon.com/Melanin-Melanated-Educated-Unapologetic-T-Shirt/dp/B07PJ7TQ72
"Melanin "Melanated Educated Unapologetic" T-Shirt"
2. From https://melaninislife.com/products/melanated-educated-hoodie
"hoodie" - a sweatshirt with a hood
Note: the name of the website: "Melanin is life"
This website is selling a black hoodie with the words “melanated and educated” in yellow, red, & green colors [black, red, yellow, & green are panafrican colors]
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